As children rifled through barrels of books, swung balloon swords and smiled through the sparkle of rainbow-colored face paint, the Sacramento Public Library moved closer to its goal of 30,000 members in its summer reading program.
The Sacramento Public Library organized a Summer Reading Celebration on Wednesday to promote its summer reading program, which began June 1 and runs through Aug. 31. About 20 new people had signed up for the program in the first hour of the event, hosted at the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services' Oak Park campus.
"It's been a privilege to spread literacy locally," said Lori Easterwood, programming and partnerships coordinator for the library.
Easterwood said the summer reading theme this year connects the library to the area's food-centric culture, reminding young people that "Reading Is So Delicious."
She said the library is focused on spreading knowledge of all kinds, and learning how to cook something or follow a recipe is tied to reading skills. Library organizers hope these community events will bring the total summer reading participants to 30,000.
A food advocate from California Food Literacy offered children the chance to draw and color meals on a paper plate, touch raw squash and eggplant and taste raw cucumber.
Book giveaways came courtesy of the Love-Talk-Read campaign, an effort to collect books and distribute them to low-income households. The goal is to increase literacy rates for families in need.
Camila Barrera, 6, said she likes to read some library books "over and over again." She pulled a colorful picture book about monsters from a barrel.
"Since I'm not a girly girl, I like scary-funny things," she said, holding up her new book. "I could tell it was scary-funny by looking at the monsters on the cover."
Christian Rodrigues, 12, picked a few scary books as well, and he toted around a "Goosebumps" book and a novel called "Intruders."
"Reading gets me interested and curious about things," he said.
Celeste Roseberry-McKibbin said this kind of excitement for reading is what gets her out of bed every morning.
She teaches speech pathology at California State University, Sacramento, and has helped to collect about 44,000 books for under-resourced children and families.
She said research shows middle-income neighborhoods have 13 books per child, while low-income neighborhoods have one book for every 300 children.
"That got me inspired," she said. "It is a privilege to make a contribution, and it doesn't get any better than this."
Call The Bee's Morgan Searles, (916) 321-1102. Follow her in Twitter @morgansearles.